What do you get when you pull together 10 close friends for a celebratory Wine Weekend getaway? Crazy days looping through the beautiful North Carolina countryside in search of the perfect vino, several cases of wine heading home, hours of hot tub time logged-in and the best game of Cards Against Humanity ever! In a nutshell, some of the most hilarious & cherished memories that one could ever think imaginable!
Where do I begin?
Friday, Oct 12th – Arrival at the Frog Holler Cabins in Elkin, North Carolina
Elkin, NC is the ideal central spot to base yourself while you are wine-ing away at many of the 70+ glorious wineries around the lush green, rolling hills of Yadkin Valley and Swan Creek. Our weekend basecamp, the Frog Holler Cabins adds the perfect retreat for your wine-ding down! I and three others were lucky enough to stay at one of their rentals, the Frog Holler Farmhouse. Sadly, for us, since we wanted to stay there on our next visit, they sold that beautiful home to a guest who fell in love with it and wanted it for their private residence. Quite the bummer, but I seriously cannot blame them – the farmhouse was AMAZING! Others in our party stayed at three of their 5 other charming and cozy cabins that are truly idyllic with their fireplaces, hot tubs and serene river views. I do believe that the Deer Run cabin is my ultimate favorite and my next visit abode!
*And, just a fantastic little additional note – they also offer Frog Holler Wine Tours for $60 per person – leave the driving to them!
To get our wild Friday afternoon rolling, we met the crew at Elkin Creek Vineyard which is just a few minutes away from Frog Holler. It was the most perfect setting for our first wine tasting in the Piedmont West region of North Carolina.
Elkin Creek Winery is a definite “hidden gem” nestled perfectly down a gravel winding road, through the forest and tucked alongside a rushing creek in a historic grist mill built in 1896. It could not have been more tranquil or fuller of fantastic energy. Thanks to the refreshing and fabulous tasting, the back deck very soon was more than full of our laughter and joyful insanity! For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@ladywithwanderlust), it is not a secret that I have an addiction to Italian wines – this vineyard has made me a believer that you can savor truly similar “fantastico” styles in the NC hills! From their Italian-inspired, Classico 2016 “Super Tuscan” to capping off my tasting with their Vino Limone and its homage to Limoncello – yeah, that most definitely went home with us! I can’t wait until my next visit where I will be sure to devour some of their tasty wood-fired pizza!
*An additional note on Elkin Creek Vineyard – I hear it is the ideal place to have a wedding – just in case you are looking to get hitched!
From there we’re off to Grassy Creek Vineyard. Another charming place for sampling 6 more wines. Hands-down my wine favs were the 2015 Barbera and 2016 Chambourcin! The owners were absolute sweethearts and we made sure to leave our “pin” mark on their map!
*Fun additional note for the walking & hiking addicts like me – stop in for a glass of wine, or two, or a bottle ( if you are like me LOL) and a stroll along the Grassy Creek Walking & Hiking Trail.
Since we were all famished by this time, our next winery would only be a dining visit at Roaring River Vineyards. The restaurant has a beautiful view, if you sit outside, but the majority ruled and dining alfresco was therefore over-ruled. Sadly, our dining experience was a huge disappointment for the entire party of ten. Let’s just say the server’s service, although she was very sweet, completely and for the lack of a better word, sucked - and the food was very disheartening to say the least. Quick frankly is was awful. After having considerable things comped on our bill, we were ready to boogie on out! However, I did really like the ambiance and view at Roaring River Vineyard. I am also sure they will work out their dining kinks and all will be fabulous – I hope. Since I was only able to partake in the restaurant, I plan a return visit to enjoy a wine tasting, or a glass of vino and their very lovely porch overlooking the river!
With a sizable chunk of our crew still completely famished, the last stop for our Friday eve was Skull Camp Brewing. Fun and rather lively joint with a really cool vibe - and the HUGE Jumbo Pretzel appetizer with beer cheese dip was extremely to-die-for!
Saturday, Oct 13th – 11am meetup for a BBQ breakfast at John Boys BBQ. Authentic, eat off paper plates with plastic cutlery kind of good stuff – the place was packed!
After breakfast – aka wine chugging sustenance - we were on our way to the first winery of the day, Shadow Springs Vineyards. It was about 18 miles of a drive, but so worth it! I am crazy about their tagline “Fine Wines. No Snobbery.” Not that I have ever encountered any snobbish-ness at a winery, this really does some up this place – genuine people and quality wine without a doubt! I personally fell in love with the “Dark Shadow” wine. I mean, who the heck wouldn’t because it blissfully tastes JUST like chocolate – of course a bottle left with me and, unfortunately, it never made it home thanks to that hot tub and Cards Against Humanity game! But I digress, I will just buy a case on my next visit! After a more than enjoyable and wonderfully informative tasting, we all sat outside overlooking a pleasant pond with their lush vineyard just beyond and enjoyed some additional beverages. For me it was a fabulously refreshing wine slushie – you heard me right!
Next up, Windsor Run Cellars! Charming and quickly became another of my favorites in the valley. Our fantastic and entertaining wine-tender, said I look like Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders. I will take that, by far, as a compliment because she has killer hair and is a total badass! This winery is really amazzzing because they also have, wait for it --- Mead!!! I love mead like you have no idea! In addition to their regular wine tasting, you can also do their Fortified Wine tasting that is 3 wines for $6 and includes a shot glass. This tasting was right up my alley! I sampled their Midnight Run port style wine (my favorite!) and a couple of the Meads, of course. On the regular wine tasting, Cherry Smash was the winner for me! As we were about to leave, our wine-tender asked us if we had tried the Dark Shadow from Shadow Springs. We told him we had just left, said it was mind-blowing and had actually purchased a couple bottles. He told us to mix the two wines together! Just think about Cherry & Chocolate – SAY WHAAAT?!?!?! I could have hugged the man!!
**You must keep that little “Combo” tidbit in your brain for your winery visit – Dark Shadow & Cherry Smash!
3rd winery of the day – we were cruising right along to Midnight Magdalena Vineyards which was situated smack in the heart of their own vineyard. Pleasant and beautiful. Spacious and large tasting bar, wonderful outdoor wraparound porch with crazy comfortable seating for small groups, and a tented area with seating and live music. Let’s just say they know how to appeal to wino masses! Since we had a rather large group of 10, who were still salivating for more wine, they found a fabulous spot for us on the porch over looking the newest vineyard and the wonderful musical entertainment.
The owner was our wine-tender and she was more than a delight! We loved hearing the story of how their life owning a vineyard came to be after a life in the corporate world. Since we loved the name so much, we couldn’t resist asking how they came up with it. Long and sweet story short – they had a dog named Midnight and when her grandfather and grandmother were childhood friends, even though it wasn’t her name, he called her “Magdelena”. She tells the full story with such passion and endearment that it is a much better version. Please, when you visit enjoy her beautiful rendition – and enjoy their wine! Since I am a “red” fiend, I loved the Carot Noir and Merlot!
We had two more wineries on our itinerary, Raffaldinni which to me was the absolute twin to many wineries dotting the European countryside. Unfortunate for us, the stunning Raffaldinni was closed for a private party. I was very disappointed, but I will be back! So, we ventured on to our final stop for the day at Picconne Vineyards – yes, an Italian wine vineyard in picturesque Swan Creek – who knew?!
This property is stunning! The inside tasting bar is small but believe me you won’t want to stay in there if the weather is nice! Best plan ever – get a wine flight and take it outside on one of the patios overlooking the gorgeous hillside. If you are lucky there will be live music outside as well! So, let me tell you about their wine. Again, it is NO secret that I was in absolute heaven to find Italian wines in the mountains of North Carolina – I am an Italy (and wine) addict! Oh, my goodness, their wines are more than delizioso! At the time of our visit, we could sample 10 wines for $14 inside or select a Flight of 4 Wines (2oz each) for $12 and venture out on the stunning property.
Certainly, I wanted to sample ALL of them, however the weather was just too gorgeous out not to take a glorious flight outside to sip and breathe it all in. My flight – Vermentino (yes!), Nero (OMG!), Montelpulciano (divino!) and their Cabernet. Trust me – this is the deal and I can not wait to return and get my fix!
That concluded the weekend trekking around on the hunt for the best vino. This is where the final festivities commenced. I mean, who doesn’t want to wrap out a fabulous wine weekend in the Yadkin Valley without a dip into your Farmhouse jacuzzi – with some “Dark Shadow” – and then a crazy round of Cards Against Humanity with the crew?! Done and Done!
There are so many unbelievable wineries all around this area that it is incredibly difficult to narrow down which ones to hit first, but I hope this helps! I know I will be back time and again!
*Final little notes - If you are a festival and wine lover, the area has many fabulous festivals throughout the year. One for sure not to miss is the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival that is held in Elkin during the month of May. Over 25 wineries and vineyards, live music and great food! And, don’t forget to stop by the Yadkin Valley website for more additional ideas for your visit!